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Atwater Brewery in GR

March 14, 2018

  • 201 Michigan Street NW
  • Grand Rapids, MI 49503
  • (616) 649-3020
  • Website
  • Menu

It’s not very often I do a night out with friends.  I don’t have a lot of guys that I really hang out with and do things with in Kalamazoo.  Having not grown up here, most of our friends are either co-workers or parent friends.

The guys I grew up with back in Illinois have all kind of spread out.  Some  have stayed near home.  Some have went south towards St. Louis.  With the help of Facebook, I’ve managed to stay in touch with most of them.

There were two guys growing up who I’d consider “best friends.”  One of those guys I see once a year when we go to a White Sox game.  The other I see occasionally when I go to visit my parents.  Up until recently, he still lived in the town we grew up in.

That friend was in to a lot of the same wacky stuff I was growing up.  We’d go see shows no one else would go to just for the experience.  We saw a lot of independent wrestling in college just for the hell of it.

Late last year I saw a Facebook event for Weird Al Yankovic at 20 Monroe Live.  I marked that I was interested in it and right away, my buddy asked if I was going.  He said if I got tickets, he’d come up for the show.  I’d never seen Weird Al so I said, “What the heck?” and got the tickets.

The night of the show, we got to Grand Rapids a little before 6:30.  We had time for dinner but I knew the restaurants in the heart of downtown would be packed.  I headed for City Hall instead and parked in the municipal lot underneath the city and county building.

We walked over to Atwater Brewery in GR for dinner.  The Detroit-based brewery is on the corner of Michigan Street and Monroe Avenue in the newly remodeled Rowe Hotel building.  They’ve been open since the fall of 2016 on this highly visible corner.

The first thing you notice is there is no parking.  You’ll have to park in either the municipal lot or further down Monroe Avenue.  Regardless of where you park, you will have a little bit of walk.

The space is not what I expected from the outside.  The brewery takes up an L-shaped corner of the building with large windows looking out over both Monroe and Michigan.  Most of the dining room is along the Monroe side of the building.  You sort of walk in to the middle of it and are greeted right away by a host station.  The bar is right in front of the doors and it has large windows that peer into the brewhouse portion of the restaurant.

If you walk towards the Michigan Street side of the room, there is another smaller dining room that is separated from the bar area by a shuffleboard table and a couple of larger pub tables.  The smaller dining room has more four tops and bigger regular sized tables for larger groups and families.

I’m not really familiar with Atwater Brewery outside of Vanilla Java Porter.  I’ve had that one so many times and it’s one of my favorites, but I never see a lot of other Atwater beers on the shelf or on tap.  I grabbed the beer menu that was set down with our menus and started looking to fill out my flight.

It turns out we were both doing flights and the one beer I really wanted to try, the Imperial Vanilla Java Porter, wasn’t available for flights.  I found four others that I also had an interest in so it really wasn’t that big of a letdown…I guess I could have still ordered the Imperial VJP after I finished, but I didn’t.

So, I started out my flight with the heavies.  I like saving the IPA for dinner and since I’m just in the habit of going in order, I picked up IV first.  This one is listed as a Belgian Strong Ale and while it was a little boozy, it was surprisingly easy to drink.  Sometimes these heavy Belgians are more sippable than drinkable but that wasn’t the case with this one.

The second beer was Large Marge.  This is an American Barleywine and again, a beer that is very drinkable.  I warned my buddy who doesn’t drink a lot of craft that barleywine’s can be boozy but this one was not.

The third beer was Not Bacon.  I really only picked this because of the name.  It’s an American Pale Ale that’s only available in the Grand Rapids location.  I mean, it’s not bacon so I guess the name is accurate.  Other than that it was a solid, middle of the road Pale Ale.

The last beer I chose was Off The Clock.  This is their Imperial IPA only available in Grand Rapids.  The beer was pretty hoppy which I love.  I could see myself drinking a couple pints of this one.

The dinner menu at Atwater Brewery in GR isn’t huge.  Pizza, a few sandwiches, a few entrees, and a few weiners and salads.  I did notice the table next to us had a kid’s menu, but since I was actually out without kids for once, I didn’t get a good look at it.

I ordered the Atwater Burger.  This is a pretty simple burger with lettuce, tomato, and onion on a brioche bun.  I added cheddar cheese for an extra $.50 and fries for an extra $3.  The burger was juicy and delicious, but, as I mentioned, it was pretty simple.  The brioche bun was slightly toasted and soaked up the juice that leaked out with each bite.  The fries were a thicker take on curly fries.  It’s a little odd because I had never seen this style of fry before we ate at 5 Lakes Brewing in Dorr.  This must be a new thing.  They were slightly seasoned and very crispy.  A good, filling compliment to the burger.

My buddy did the Chicken and Waffles.  I think he made a good choice.  The plate is a Belgian waffle topped with blackened buttermilk chicken, green apples, sage, and maple sugar.  He thought the chicken was burnt at first but realized it was kind cooked like a Cajun blackened chicken.  It was very moist and tender.  He also added on fries to his meal for an extra $3.  There was just enough of the maple sugar on the waffle for it to stand out but not be a distraction from all of the other flavors.

Our bill came out to a little over $50 before tip.  I offered to pay because I wasn’t able to make it to his birthday dinner with family and friends a few weeks ago so this was my make-up to him.

Atwater Brewery in GR has been on my list since it opened.  It’s always looked good to me, but I wasn’t always sure what to make of the menu.  I feel like they tried to go a more German route when the opened but that’s not the case anymore.  The brewery is a good cross between an upscale restaurant and a neighborhood pub.  You’re going to get delicious beer and a meal that would rival most of the higher end dining establishments in town.

Atwater Brewery in GR Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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